Why Being A Teacher Is One Of The Best Ways To Change The World

We give you a text about teachers’ invisible work towards a better world on World Teachers’ Day

If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to, do it.
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing to it.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Darina Damyanova, TFB alumna 2016-2018

When we talk about teaching we tend to use cliches such as “teaching is a calling”, some people are just “born to be teachers”, “teaching is not for everyone”. Nowadays, however, when fewer and fewer people (in Bulgaria and around the world) chose to take upon the responsibilities and rewards of this profession, it is time to take a different perspective when we talk about teaching.

We should, first of all, think of teaching as a way to impact society, and second of all, as a conscious and legitimate career choice.

Because despite the heavy bureaucracy, the tedious inertia of the status quo, and the low pay, teaching has the most impact and potential to truly change the world – through the children who are going to build it in the future. And at the same time it is a profession which, from the first day of school, gives you the leadership role to take responsibility for changing your environment and everyone in it. Somewhere along the way you develop yourself as a person, you build skills crucial for a successful career at school, but also for any other career path.

Jobs of the future

Slavena Bozveliyska, Teach For Bulgaria participant, class of 2017-2019

According to education experts, many of the jobs on the market today are expected to disappear, massively decline in number, or change under the pressure of technology and automation. Taking this into consideration, one of the main tasks of education should be to prepare young people for this transition by helping them develop the necessary skills and mindsets for the job market of the future.

Teachers are the ones on the front line taking on this challenging task. But not the ones who are merely carriers of knowledge (technology has proved to be much more effective here), but the ones who inspire students’ imagination, welcome their ideas, support them in their efforts, and encourage learning by experiencing and doing. They inspire students to get to know themselves and other people, to explore their environment, and test their impact on it. These teachers encourage students to use what they learn to make the world a better place for everyone while setting and working towards their own goals.

This does not sound like wishful thinking to successful teachers, they are well aware it is part of their job description. Good teachers have a tremendous life-long impact on people – everyone remembers their favorite teachers.

Their impact is so powerful because they focus on developing students’ critical thinking as well as other skills and mindsets as opposed to just cramming information into their heads. The need for 21st-century skills and mindsets is driving the teaching profession to change faster than ever before. Teachers need to constantly learn and adapt in order to meet this need. This makes the demand for such teachers huge, it also requires true leadership and practically means that such change agents could never be replaced by machines.

Teaching could be just the beginning

Teach For Bulgaria alumni Desislava Stoyanova and Iglika Atanasova with students

Becoming a teacher in the 21st century is no longer just “a calling” or wanting to be around kids. Teaching has become one of the best careers for personal and professional development; a conscious choice to gain valuable practical experience and to develop various skills, a method for career orientation which could indicate where and how a person would be most useful.

Teachers’ daily routine at school requires them to use and develop many of the skills necessary for a variety of other professions: planning, goal setting, effective communication, conflict resolution, creativity (especially when trying to engage students in the learning process), and working in a challenging environment with limited resources.

Being a teacher is about taking advantage any opportunity to be better – at your job and as a person. And to use your skills and knowledge to help students grow. To model and inspire. Counterintuitively, this often means not to think about yourself in particular and in the short-term, but about the big picture and in the long-term. This is why good teachers often move on to be successful managers, executive directors, and entrepreneurs.

Last but not least, teaching is one of the few jobs which are measured by the success of others (the students). This develops empathy and the ability to “pay it forward”, to support and encourage, to know that you should always do your best not for your own sake but for your students. This awareness is the basis for changing the world because it all starts with you and the choices you make.

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